I was invited to participate in a book swap that happens 3 to 4 times per year. Each time, we make 3 hand-made books which must be made with hand-made paper. We send them to a central coordinator, and about 2 weeks later, we receive 3 different books from the other participants. The various artists come from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands. The deadline for this swap was October 31, so I thought it would be fun to make a Halloween-themed book.
I find I really enjoy participating in swaps. They are often small, limited edition projects, and they really give me a creative kick-start as I try to develop new work on a theme to a deadline. There is always the chance that you might put more work into your submission than what you get back, but for the most part, you get back an amazing array of work from artists around the country, and sometimes even the world. The time I spend in development time is very useful to me as I work out innovative ideas that may or may not pan out. The things I learn feed future work, and the value in the experience hinges on the lessons I learn, rather than whether anybody else’s work is “as good as mine.”
When I was telling my good friend about my book, she exclaimed in German, “Ah, fledermausen in der glockenspiel.” It sounded so funny that this is what I named the book. The English translation is, literally, “bats in the chimes.”
Here is the book, which, when closed, is a little box about 3″ x 4″. The outside paper is black denim paper I made from a pair of my old black denim jeans. I added some white abaca to make it grey, which is a fiber from a kind of banana plant from the Phillipines. I also cut up some little bits of silver machine embroidery thread for an inclusion. It is painted with watercolor.
Below is the box open.
The inside images are all hand-stamped with a hand-carved rubber stamp that I carved from PZ Kut with an X-acto knife. I stamped with block printing ink on paper that was a mix of white cotton muslin and black cotton denim, and the end papers are the black cotton denim plain.
Bats go flapping in the night, turning left, turning right. Swirling high above the town, bored with hanging upside down. by Michael Roberts. This poem is the B page in Mumbo Jumbo: The Creepy ABC, which is a wonderful alphabet book with a Halloween theme. The poetry is priceless, and it is illustrated with wonderful cut-paper shapes. Get one for your kids. You won’t regret it!
The bat in the moon dives down behind the steeple as you close the book.
The bat’s a radar-guided gent. For nighttime flying he is meant. His aim is not to snag your hair unless you’re hiding insects there. By Michael Williams.
The bat floats above the covers on little posts.
Two of these little bats tilt back and forth when you pull and push the tab. The poem is by Shel Silverstein, from A Light in the Attic. The baby bat screamed out in fright, “Turn on the dark, I’m afraid of the light!”
All day bats drowse in houses’ eaves like tents collapsed for storage. But when dusk darkens, like fall leaves, they loosen. Then they forage. For juicy June bugs, meaty moths, mosquitos (eaten rare). They’re scary. But there’s nothing like a bat to clear the air. By X.J. Kennedy from The Beauty of the Beast, which is a wonderful compendium of animal poetry by various children’s poets.
So, the books are in Hawaii, awaiting distribution. We’ll see what the other folks think!